Caravan of Central American Mothers

Where are they, where are they? Our children, where are they?

Looking for Life on the Path of Death

In The Caravan of Central American Mothers,
the women wear their photo placards.
What if, instead of their sons in the photos,
it was my own, hanging over my heart?
The Caravan of Central American Mothers
makes their children’s absence visible.

Were it my son disappeared,
I, too, would make the pilgrimage
searching for our children,
migrants disappeared in transit through Mexico,
my private maternal grieving, too,
transformed to  maternal activism.


Every year for the past thirteen,
the mothers have traveled across Mexico
searching for children gone missing
while migrating from Central America.
Every year protesting policies
that cause violence against their children.

Travelling the routes taken by migrants,
they spread pamphlets, raise awareness,
and hold protests, all the while
combing towns, bars, graveyards,
prisons and boarding houses, following clues
seeking their missing children.

Their vulnerable children,
not criminals, but international workers,
caught between the drug war and what is called
border ‘securitization’, aping the US,
which has shamefully withdrawn
from UN talks promoting safe migration.

Their children from Guatemala, Honduras,
El Salvador and Nicaragua
tried to flee from gangs and poverty and crime,
but found in Mexico, more danger;
cartels who kidnap and traffic,
kill and enslave them.

Were it my son’s photo corded around my neck
on a laminated plastic placard,
his name and disappearance date beneath,
would I have the courage to embark
on this journey to follow his footsteps
to the poorest and most dangerous parts of Mexico?

Even on the train tracks in Tabasco
where migrants climb on the train called the Beast
from southern Mexico to towns on the US border,
a place on the migration route where
kidnappings, rapes and extortion are common,
even here the mothers make their inquiries.

Seventy thousand are missing,
but for two hundred and seventy-one mothers,
who slept in migrant shelters along the route
and clung to fragile hope,
the miracle of reunion has come to pass.
Adelante! Anima! Soy con Ustedes!

©Susa Silvermarie 2017

The demand of justice for the disappeared migrants has been the work of women. From domestic violence and violence within communities, women are opposing wars and challenging systems of injustice. Across the globe, women are fighting against a violent patriarchal order and demanding a just new world. The horrors that haunt the Central American migrant’s route is matched only by the endless love of a mother. “A mother’s love never runs out,” is the Caravan’s refrain. May it be all of ours.


In the Egret’s Beak

In the egret’s beak the fish
wriggles its final moments.
When she tosses it back
and her throat pulses,
I am the fish being eaten.
On my way to oblivion, where
blackout curtains shield me
from sensory brilliance.

When I meditate,
and someone’s radio volume spikes—
Mexican music on the beach—
my hackles likewise rise until
I am peace being eaten;
on my way to extinction
of tranquility, where this time,
sensory brilliance wins.

In the egret’s beak I dangle,
praying to embrace my fate,
resistance no recourse.
Look! Sun glittering on the lake!
Feel! This moment of life!
Glory! In soon becoming egret,
gliding across the waters!
In each moment becoming another.

©Susa Silvermarie 2017


Her Face a Treasure

photography by Susa SilvermarieConchita’s face fills my doorway
like a dream I know.
A teacher mother come again.
The day before Navidad,
we share food
at one another’s homes.
We sit on cardboard, compañeras,
sharing guisado from her cookfire.
Then we walk to my casita,
for coffee and licuados.
A day of drawing closer, even though
we can barely comprehend
one another’s life. I don’t even know
which is her Mayan language.
Her Spanish is hard to understand.
But her presence, so strong,
feels familiar, calming. True.
Her unforgettable face in my doorway
bestows a treasure.

©Susa Silvermarie 2017

photography by Susa Silvermarie